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Jacob Richler’s Leg of Lamb Recipe

leg of lamb recipe

A Timeless Leg of Lamb Recipe

Nowadays sheep birth lambs all year long – but in the culinary imagination spring and lamb still march along hand in hoof. A lamb’s place as the centrepiece of spring’s religious celebrations is even more entrenched. Because lamb and Easter go back, well, about 3, 500 years – to the first Passover seder. So if, like me, you go with the historical flow and a break out some spring lamb this weekend, here’s an easy, foolproof recipe for great results – one that pairs lamb with a couple of its other great, historical friends – rosemary, and flageolets.

Jacob Richler’s Roast Leg of Lamb Recipe


For the lamb

1 large (5 lb approx) whole leg of lamb

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp minced rosemary

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp wine vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper


 For the sauce

3 tbsp olive oil

salt, pepper

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1/2 cup red wine

3 cups chicken stock.

1/4 cup veal demi-glace

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, packed

1 tbsp brown sugar

3 anchovies, minced

For the flageolets

2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 Spanish onions – minced

3 stalks celery, minced

3 carrots, peeled and minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup minced parsley

1 tbsp minced thyme

3 bay leaves

1/2 cup white wine

1 28 oz tin of whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed

3 tins (500 ml approx) flageolets, drained

1 cup chicken or lamb stock

Salt, pepper


Remove (or ask your butcher to remove) shank from leg at the lower joint. At least 24 hours prior to roasting make small incisions in lamb leg with a small knife every 4 cm or so. Combine rosemary, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and pepper in a bowl. Insert a generous pinch into each incision. Add mustard and oil to remaining mixture, combine, and rub the lamb down with the balance. Wrap, and refrigerate overnight, at least.

Season the shank generously. Sear in half the olive oil over medium-high heat until browned on all sides – about ten minutes. Remove lamb to a plate. Pour off fat and oil, wipe saucepan with a paper towel. Add fresh oil, and over low heat sweat vegetables until wilted. Turn up heat and deglaze pan with the red wine. Reduce to syrup. Lower heat, return lamb to pot and add stock to cover. Braise until tender – 60-90 minutes. Allow to cool. Reserve lamb shank for another purpose. Strain braising liquid into a clean container and chill until fat hardens on the surface – overnight. Remove fat. Bring liquid to the boil and reduce to desired intensity. Add demi-glace and simmer five minutes more. If not thick enough, reduce more. Set aside.

For the flageolets, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the vegetables and sweat gently until tender and sweet (like for soffrito) – about 30 minutes. Raise heat and deglaze with the wine. Reduce to syrup. Add the tomatoes and reduce by one third. Stir in the flageolets and the stock. Simmer for ten minutes, season – and (optional) add 1/4 cup of the lamb sauce. Season to taste.

To finish:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Let lamb come to temperature for 30-60 minutes. Salt generously. Roast joint for twenty minutes, then lower temperature to 275°F. Lamb should cook for about 15 minutes per pound (total time) and register an internal temperature of 120-125°F for medium rare. Then cover with a tent of foil and let rest on counter for 30 minutes, undisturbed.

Meanwhile, to finish the sauce, combine mint and sugar on a chopping block and mince together. Then add anchovies and mince again. Return sauce base to a simmer, stir in mint mixture, simmer for five minutes more and correct seasonings. Strain.

Carve lamb, and serve on warm plates with the flageolets. Drizzle with the sauce, sprinkle with fleurs de sel, and serve extra sauce on the side.

Still life: Oscar Björck (1860-1929)

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